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Curriculum responsiveness and student employability in VET Bridge Post-School Community of Practice October 2016 Available at: Outline Employability and Responsiveness: Opening up the debate Theme 4: Project 2 an

  1. Curriculum responsiveness and student employability in VET Bridge Post-School Community of Practice October 2016

  2. Available at:

  3. Outline • Employability and Responsiveness: Opening up the debate • Theme 4: Project 2 – an overview • Case Study 1: Sugar: a sector perspective • Case Study 2: Earth cc: a firm perspective • Cross cutting themes • Implications for policy and practice

  4. Employability and Employability Skills • Shift in focus from employment to employability linked to shifts in economy and nature of work • Focuses on the ‘product’ of the system • Based on needs of employers • Often becomes a check list of attributes

  5. Responsiveness and Curriculum Responsiveness • Challenge posed to education system/institution and educators • Most often understood in terms of responding to the needs of employers – Curriculum viewed as outdated, standards not appropriate, key general skills not taught, educators out of touch. • Lack of responsiveness results in students not being employable

  6. Some Response Demands Education providers need to respond to a range of factors: – Policy requirements • Regulatory frameworks • Funding mechanisms • Targets and future needs – Employer expectations • Short term • Longer term – Social and environmental concerns • Employment equity • Greening work – Institutional • Budget • Capacity • Infrastructure • Organisational culture – Individual and cohorts of learners • Language • Age • Motivation – Knowledge • Discipline • Field of practice

  7. Case Study 1 A sectoral perspective: the sugar training system

  8. GOVERNMENT DAFF DHET Sugar Act 1978 Sugar Industry Agreement SA Cane growers SASA Association Postgrad UKZN SAS Ind. Farmers Agr. Ass Training Pretoria Universities SASRI Large Small Stellenbosch SASTA Scale Scale J Certificate S Certificate Free State 23 866 cane growers ( 3wks – Gr12 STC SASMRI 5wks Dip or Deg.) SETAs Trade Test Supervisor Artisan workshop Machinery apprenticeships Farm worker skills courses MILLERS

  9. Sugar Training System

  10. Emplo loyer resp sponsiv iveness “We get told by the Department of Higher Education what to do, when to do, how to do. Obviously there’s a tight interface between the operation, in other words, the training operation and the milling requirement, so if the curriculum says we need x, y and z and Mill says we need x, y and z , but we also need a, b and c, we will provide a, b and c within that curriculum, because that’s what our customers want” • Shukela Training Centre respondent

  11. Social Responsiveness “Ja, we, what happened is two years ago, the Industry realised that there is quite a lot of land reform … people who were getting land from restitution, and others who were coming from the land reform programme and they decided that to bring these in because these farmers have been producing sugar cane. So, we commissioned a study, got a consultant from outside, to look at the requirements … of these new clients … in terms of training needs and then looked at what the Industry was providing in terms of training support and then identifying the gaps and now we are at the beginning of implementing a project to bridge … those gaps so that we’re providing the [51.36] because there are different clients from … the large scale growers in terms of need.”

  12. ‘Field’ Responsiveness “We do Electro -pneumatics. Electro-pneumatics has no reflection whatsoever in trade test it is not part of the curriculum towards trade test, but your Sugar Industry, all you Packaging Industries, all that, use electro- pneumatics, so it’s something that’s ended up in the course and it’s been there for fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years, very popular, it stays within … course. We do it as part of our curriculum, because it was needs driven and it’s in there”

  13. Learning responsiveness “From group to group learners are different. Um, you might get a group of learners that have… shall I put it this way, learners that have really taken on the trade, because they wanted, not because it’s a job… . and you get another group that are very much plodders, um, they took on a job and whether it was electrician or fitter it doesn’t matter, they took on a job and you’ve really got to push them to get through every module and the problem with that is sometimes they’ll finish phase one and they’ll pass it. But when they come back for phase two, you have this slight retention problem, because their interest is not as good as it was, so you’ve got to do a little bit of a refresher for people like that and you can move forward .”

  14. Case Study 2 A College NCV programme

  15. A disconnect … • Students not prepared for the programme • Lecturers not connected to employers • Employers not aware of programme • No employment opportunities for the students Despite the field being a significant part of the local economy

  16. Emerging Issues across the cases

  17. Curriculum: Knowledge issues • Private providers work with national curricula as a minimum set of requirements and are able to bolt on sections in response to employer needs • Standardised curricula need to have flexibility for additions • Distinguish between academic education (pre- vocational) and industry/occupation specific knowledge.

  18. Learner Responsiveness • Need to balance learner needs with industry expectations • Need to take a life course view of learner needs • Curriculum needs to be viewed as a continuity that pays particular attention to transitions Employers and Education providers need to take a system wide and pipeline perspective on skills supply

  19. Curriculum: Temporal issues • Responsive curricula vary the time frames depending on needs – 10 weeks, 5 weeks, 2 weeks, 3 years – Tension between this and standardised notional study hours • Responsive curricula vary pacing dependent on learner needs

  20. Work integrated learning • WIL works exceptionally well when driven by the employer • WIL creates serious problems for education providers that are not embedded in the work environment • Enrolment targets are in tension with WIL requirements • Placing and managing all students in traditional models of WIL is an unrealistic expectation under current models

  21. Staffing • Work experience is key to remaining responsive • Mechanisms for keeping educators and practitioners connected need to be resourced • Focus on qualifications and research in HEIs (with funding and rankings based on this) is steering the system away from a focus on teaching and practice based knowledge

  22. Improving employability … • More than a formal curriculum response needed – Strengthen relationships – Build trust through partnerships • Develop a curriculum for employers • Act as proxy social capital • Model practices and behaviour • Focus on transitions • Rethink the role of SETA offices

  23. Thank You

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